Sunday, October 24, 2010

REVIEW: "Digger's Bones" by Paul Mansfield Keefe

What if something you took for granted wasn't really true? 
A phone call from an old friend throws Angie into a whirlwind of terror and discovery. A secret has been uncovered, a secret that will threaten one of the core beliefs of Christianity. Angie, an ordinary woman with a few significant regrets in her bag, is the only person who will be able to put the pieces together to find the truth. While doing this, she must looked to all her strength and knowledge to follow the clues while evading the powerful men who are determined to squelch this secret forever. Angie may be smart and resourceful, but she is just one woman, and these men will stop at nothing- even death- to stop her.

Paul Mansfield Keefe has written a thrilling book that takes you on a ride worthy of the big screen. Angie is a very likable and interesting character, and you find yourself rooting for her again and again. There are several unexpected twists and turns, and you're barely given time to catch your breath before Angie is off and running again. I wanted to keep reading to discover what happened next. Some of the secrets uncovered were surprising, and the last few pages of the book are satisfying to the reader who has followed the story the whole way through.

With all the excitement that builds up in the first half of the story, the last 60 pages or so involve some very confusing jumps. It seems as though the author wanted to finish the story, and compacted what may have been meant for more pages into fewer. There was one scene with Reilly (spelled Riley at one point) and Angie that seemed to repeat itself a few pages later in a different location, almost as if it had never happened in the first place. There was nothing in between to show a passage of time, so you are left with a generalized feeling of déjà vu. Several sections that ended with cliffhangers turn out to be letdowns as the next page shows the characters doing something completely different, leaving you confused as to what happened. I found myself turning back to reread passages on several occasions to see if I had missed something.  

As is the case with several of the independent books I've reviewed, this book could use a thorough editing. The words "your" and "you're" are used interchangeably in many places throughout the book, and too many plurals incorrectly contain apostrophes. A sentence such as "German's love to concatenate words into larger words, until they are all but impossible to read" was first misinterpreted by me to be a sentence fragment, until I realized that the plural "Germans" was meant. Additionally, there are some homophone errors; I was surprised to learn-more than once in this story- that Jesus Christ was a "profit" and not a "prophet." There were also several typos; I was confused when I read that Angie's "mode" had lifted until I realized it was her "mood" that had lifted. The previous example with the Germans not counted, the book is also riddled with sentence fragments that are actually dependent clauses. Reading a few of these would not detract from the story to any great extent, but there were so many it really threw off the rhythm of the book. Determining what the noun or the verb should be in these clauses disrupted the pace of the story as you were considering the probable intended meaning. Changing the previous period to a comma, and using a lowercase letter at the start of the clause would have easily taken care of most of these errors.

A fun and exciting read, this book has the potential to be really good. The storyline is gripping, and some editing and revising would bring it to the next level.

3 /5 stars

Update 10/26/10: The author commented in another location that he has "corrected most of [the errors]" pointed out in this review. He also indicated that "some of the sentence fragments are intentional and part of a modern style of writing thrillers; quick little jabs of words to create the feeling of action and/or tension."

I welcome authors posting updates such as this on any of my reviews. I think it's important to allow authors to have a voice to indicate things they have changed or altered, or stand behind what they have created, even if I don't agree. With regards to part of this comment, I applaud the author for making some grammar changes to the book in such short order.  I actually really like the style of "quick little jabs," and I think he could accomplish that with his words by making his sentence fragments shorter. Most of them are long enough that, to me, they look like dependent clauses (containing every part of the sentence except the noun or verb) instead of "quick little jabs."

If you've read this book and would like to add a comment, please do!


Paul Keefe said...

I wanted to say how pleased I am to find a blogger who cares about the author's comments after a review. I quickly made updates to Digger's Bones because of your review and was happy to do so. For me, writing is a conversation between the writer and the reader and so clarity is essential. As a self-published author any feedback that improves that conversation is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for the review,
Paul Mansfield Keefe

GraceKrispy said...

Thanks for posting your thoughts- I agree that writing is a conversation, and I'm happy to be part of that conversation!